Called to Duty: Personal Courage

Here it is: the final Army value! Personal courage is a very important value to not only soldiers, but to Christians as well. All Christians are called to something, and when we step up to answer our calling we must have personal courage. But what exactly does it mean to have personal courage? I defined this value in the introduction to this series (click here to read) as “facing fear, danger, and adversity (physical, moral, and spiritual).

However, there are some good points that the Army made when they defined it for themselves. They continue to define this value as, “Facing moral fear or adversity may be a long, slow process of continuing forward on the right path, especially if taking those actions is not popular with others. You can build your personal courage by daily standing up for and acting upon the things that you know are honorable.” As usual, I will go more in depth look into each part of the definition, with Scripture, to back up my points. I hope you take it seriously and with an open heart.

“Face fear, danger, and adversity (physical, moral, and spiritual)…”

This first section of the definition really defines what it means to be courageous (the personal part will come latter). There are clear subtopics that are in this section. Facing each of these are not easy by no means. But taking the effort to stand up to them are what makes you courageous.

  • Facing fear.

Unfortunately, we as humans have to face fear and doing so is no easy task. The enemy surrounds us with all kinds of fear: fear of death, fear of pain, fear of loss, and so on and so on. There are people who are bound by fear. They are slaves to it. Luckily for us, we have a great God that delivers us from slavery like fear.

There is a song that delivers a good message on this specific subject: No Longer Slaves. Please understand I do not support the actions or theology of Bethel, but this song has resonated a great deal of truth. The song contains these lyrics, “I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God.”

When FDR said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, he was wrong. Through God’s perfect love for us, we are no longer bound to fear. He chose us, and for that I praise and worship Him. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) which reads, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” With the power of the Holy Spirit within, we are unable to have fear, but rather we will have the character of Christ.

  • Facing danger.

No one ever said being a Christian would be easy or safe. In fact, the Bible is very clear about how we will be faced with persecution, trials, and tribulations. All, but one (Apostle John) of the twelve Apostles had a violent death. Even today we face persecutions on Christ’s behalf. Throughout the world we are being harassed, assaulted, arrested, tortured, and killed. There are countries out there that severely restrict religion.

I’ll admit myself that as I researched persecution and dangers of being a Christian, I was surprised. There are ten countries in Africa, seven countries in Pacific Asia, one in Latin America, thirteen countries in the Middle East, and nine countries in Central and Southern Asia that are restrictive on Christians. That doesn’t include all of the countries that are hostile towards Christians (if you want to find out more about the persecution occurring today, click here).

There is a cost to following Jesus. In Matthew 8:20, 22 (ESV) Jesus explains, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his headFollow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” It was made clear that following Jesus is no easy task. Later on, Jesus teaches about the persecution that will come to everyone who believes. He says in Matthew 10:17-18, 21-22 (ESV), “Beware of man, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog youyou will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles…Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against their parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

However, Jesus promises help. In Matthew 10:19-20 (ESV), Jesus tells us, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who is speaking through you.” He tells us to be courageous; to face fear and not be bound for it. Why? Because God will be with us, and He will speak through us with His Spirit.

Paul tells us exactly what to do in the face of danger in Romans 5:3-5 (ESV) when he says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” I love how Paul leads one thing to another. Starting with something that we often look to be completely bad, he explains how through those tribulations we gain experience and character, and through that hope. When we do this, we portray the value courage.

  • Facing adversity.

There are three types of adversity that we must face. First off, adversity means difficulties or misfortune. So to face physical misfortunes, moral difficulties, and spiritual difficulties is to be courageous.

We must face physical adversity in order to be courageous. Facing danger and fear go alongside physical adversity such as the loss of friends or family members to death, financial troubles and hardships, serious injuries, addictions, etc. Especially in this generation, it is so easy to have these kinds of adversity. However, as Christians we must face these adversities.

In the Old Testament there is a story, where Satan is accusing Joshua, the high priest of Israel, in front of an angel of the Lord. In Zechariah 3:2 (ESV) it says, “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?'” Here it shows that God will defend His chosen people from the enemy, and his tactics. This past week, I attended a Youth Camp for my church as a cabin leader, and there was a point that one of the speakers made during a message: “God has already made His decision about you. You aren’t dead because He isn’t done.” Just because you have physical misfortunes and difficulties doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a plan for you. Remain patient, and continue to love the Lord with your heart, soul, and mind.

We also must face moral adversity to have courage. We sometimes have to make difficult choices to remain a faithful servant of Christ. There are various different examples of this, such as some people needing to stop hanging around wrong ‘friends’, overcoming sexual temptations, or someone seeking help to get out of an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Some of the examples might relate to you. Maybe your case isn’t that extreme. Regardless, we must face this kind of adversity. Yes, it may be hard, and to some it may seem impossible. However, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) it reads, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” There is an option that doesn’t require you to fall into more sin, and it is to put your trust in God, which will help you to be courageous.

The final type of adversity is spiritual adversity. When I think of this, I think of doubt, which has a immense, negative impact on a believer. Throughout the Bible we see various accounts of the Apostles themselves doubting, even though Jesus walked with them. There is a story of Jesus walking on water. He made his disciples to sail across the Sea of Galilee. By the time the boat was far from land, the ship was in the midst of a storm. Then during the fourth watch (between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m.), Jesus walks on water toward them.

It says in Matthew 14:26-33 (ESV), “But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'”

Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus promise us great promises. But here’s the catch: you need faith, having no trace of doubt. I think all lot of us can look at Peter and see ourselves. Especially when we are first starting in the faith, there is so much new things to us that we experience. Sometimes that can look intimidating and it scares us. But it says that Jesus immediately spoke to them to take heart and not to be scared. He tells them to have courage.

Then Peter asks, if it is Him indeed, to command him to get out and walk with the Lord. So Jesus does and Peter gets out. But then he sees the great wind and begins to doubt. He sinks and calls for Jesus to save him. Jesus once again, immediately took hold of him. Peter faced danger and that led to adversity. What did he do? He called for the only one who could save him; Jesus. In this story, Jesus never hesitates or thinks on it. Jesus chose his disciples for a reason. And He will not forsake them, just as He won’t forsake His chosen people.

So how do we face spiritual adversity? There is a story that best answers  this found in Mark 9:23-24, 28-29 (ESV), “And Jesus said to him, ‘ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’… And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out but anything but prayer.'”

In order to grow spiritually, we must have faith and believe. There is no room for doubt. Jesus tells this to the father, and he immediately believed. However, he acknowledged that he was still weak. Later, the disciples ask why they were unable to cast the demon out, and Jesus answers that the answer to spiritual adversity is prayer. We need to have more time and effort in prayer in order to grow spiritually.

“… Facing moral fear or adversity may be a long, slow process of continuing forward on the right path, especially if taking those actions is not popular with others. You can build your personal courage by daily standing up for and acting upon the things that you know are honorable.”

This is where the personal part of the value comes into play. When you courageously step up to do whats right even when others don’t approve, you portray personal courage. With that being said, it can sometimes take some time. As Christians, we are called to be apart of something different. There is a path that we must take and there are people of the world that hate us and that path. They don’t like the morally good choices that we decide to do. Yet when we choose to take those actions in spite of those worldly people.

In John 14:15,17 (ESV) it says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments… Even the Spirit of Wisdom, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him or knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” As Christians, we make the morally-right decisions. Why? Is it because we are following the law? Well in part yes. But more to that, we choose to do these actions because the true elect loves Jesus. And through loving Him and God, we choose to do the right things. Clearly Jesus is no long with us, but the Holy Spirit is. And we as His elect have the ability to know the Spirit because He is with us. Other non-believers don’t have that and therefore will sometimes hate us for it.

So how to we build up our personal courage? We do this by making it a daily effort to continue to do the right thing, to stand up for yourself, and standing up for the actions that you know are honorable. If you remember in my introduction or in the post about honor (click here to read), I defined this army value as “living up to the values that Christ has shown us.” So when we decide to live in accordance to the teachings and values of Jesus Christ, when we decide to make actions based off those things, and when we stand up for ourselves while doing those decisions, we portray personal courage.

While probably one of my longer posts, I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. I hope that you enjoyed reading it and that you take it to heart. After all, I don’t write these just for my own enjoyment, but so that the reader may learn something or see something from a different perspective. Now I challenge you to live up to this and all the values I wrote about in your daily lives.

May we all face fear, danger, and adversity, both physical misfortunes and moral and spiritual challenges. May we all continue down the right path with patience, no matter how long it takes. May we stand up for the honorable actions we take and for ourselves, no matter what others say or think. May we live with all the army values in our Christians lives: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.

Solus Christus.

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